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"It's Not Easy Listening": Thirty Years Of Pure Fucking Mayhem
John Doran , April 10th, 2014 04:04

On their 30th anniversary - with an appearance at Oya Festival booked and a new album ready for release - John Doran looks beyond the murder, the suicide, the extremism and the immolation, and talks to Mayhem's founder Necrobutcher about their radical music and nothing else

Two years ago I went to Oslo with the express intent of interviewing Mayhem about the 25th anniversary of their landmark debut Deathcrush. My idea was to take them to the band's old haunt, the location of Helvete Records – now a Vietnamese bagel shop called Vårt Daglige Brød (trans. Our Daily Bread). I wanted to photograph and interview them in the basement next to the original BLACK METAL sign which is still on the wall. I wrote about the whole experience for VICE magazine and you can read about it if you like, but suffice to say the interview didn't go ahead.

Even though my motives were originally quite pure - I wanted to write about the stuff that never usually gets a look in, in the popular narrative of Mayhem (the music) - the baroque, fascinating and genuinely disturbing back story of the group got in the way. By coincidence, another piece I'd written on the band appeared in a Norwegian music paper during my visit and this took a slightly more traditional narrative route: "I told the magazine I was pitching to they were a forward-looking group of musicians who had stronger avant garde/ experimental credentials than anyone else in their field and that I thought it was time to forget all about the murders, suicide, skull jewellery, arson, political extremism and to simply concentrate on the music. In return for my flight I had written a long feature on the history of the band and the solidity of their leftfield musical credentials for a Norwegian paper. It was a very lengthy feature and before I got to the long coda where I commanded people to stop talking about the murders, suicide, skull jewellery, arson, political extremism and concentrate on the music instead; I recapped the band’s history, including all the stuff about the murders, suicide, skull jewellery, arson, political extremism and whatnot."

I ended up leaving Oslo empty handed. I hadn't stopped to consider the fact that most of the band had no connection to Helvete Records and the one member who did, associated it with a very bad turn of events. I swore to myself if I ever got the chance to interview the band again, I'd stick to my original plan and keep the piece solely about the music - as outside of good metal titles, it's not something you'd be able to read anywhere else. (And it's not like I haven't written about all the other stuff ad nauseam myself in the past.) If, for some bizarre reason, you are unaware of what I'm talking about then simply google the words "Mayhem", "arson", "murder", "suicide". It won't take you long to reach distressing enheavyment on the subject. If for some strange reason you cannot fathom reading a piece on the band which doesn't go into all of the dark biographical information then you should stop reading now.

The bare facts are these though: Mayhem are a ground breaking and amazing black metal band from Norway who formed in 1984, released their lo-fi and brutal debut [proper] Deathcrush in 1987, the notorious and thrilling De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas in 1993, the astounding Ordo Ad Chao in 2007 and will be releasing their new (also excellent) album Esoteric Warfare on Season Of Mist, next month.

I had the pleasure of speaking on the phone to founder and longest serving member of Mayhem, Necrobutcher [Jørn Stubberud] for two hours recently and this is the result.

You and [Kjetil] Manheim started playing in bands together when you were 12 years old and living in Langhus, near Oslo. What was the main inspiration to start Mayhem four years later?

Necrobutcher: We started Mayhem in 1984 and there wasn't really much going on at the time in Norway in the way of extreme metal so we were really inspired by everything we liked whether it was Venom and Motorhead from the UK, weird electronic music from Germany, art, literature or horror films. But we liked whatever extreme music we could find… hardcore punk, extreme metal. Basically anything that was noisy, dirty and very heavy. However, even though we liked it, we didn't want to sound like anyone else. We didn't want to copy it. We wanted to do something completely original.

What did you sound like right at the start?

NB: We were just inspired to sound like we did almost from the start. I think it didn't take us long to find our own unique style in the world of extreme music. The sound has changed as we have got older and more experienced because we have had to challenge ourselves. In the beginning, rhythmically it was very primitive. That's where we were at in the beginning. All artforms are primitive before they evolve. But that's something you can get from the albums if you listen to them in order. If you do it takes you through our journey as musicians as well from the early hardcore punk/thrash metal to the avant garde stuff we're doing today.

You were very young when the band started weren't you? You were still at school…

NB: Yeah. I was sixteen.

You went to school with Manheim but how did you meet Euronymous [Øystein Aarseth]?

NB: Well, Manheim and I were schoolmates and we were in a band together called Musta which is the Finnish word for black. His father was a school headmaster and he got us a room where we could rehearse. We were in a band together for four years and then in the summer of '84 we moved to a mixed elementary school in the next village to where we grew up, called Ski. Euronymous was in the band scene in Ski and I met him when I asked him to show me the way to the rehearsal place. On the way there from the train station, we found out that we had the same taste in music and pretty much shared the same interest in splatter horror movies, electronic music and weird books; so we thought we could start a band together. I invited Euronymous to our rehearsal place the next day and it turned out that we knew the same cover songs - some Black Sabbath, some Motorhead, some Venom. We were just jamming some of that music in the beginning before we made our own music.

But we didn't spend long in that rehearsal room together cranking those guitars up before we realised that we had something special going on. We all knew that this was it. And now 30 years later you could say that I was right about that.

At what stage, if indeed you thought of it in these terms, did you start to get the impression that you could be in the most extreme or the most progressive band working in this kind of metal, in the world?

NB: We never thought about it that way. The music that came out of these rehearsals was very honest and not ripped off anyone else. We didn't validate our music in the terms of us wanting to be 'The heaviest band in the world' or anything like that. It was just normal for us.

People obsess over your early recordings and their downright nasty, raw sonic quality. Can you tell me what it was like recording your debut  album Deathcrush?

NB: When we came to the studio in 1986/87 to record Deathcrush, the technician there didn't know what kind of band we were. He asked where our special snare drum was and we didn't know what he was talking about. So he said, "Well, you're a reggae band aren't you?" And we were like, "No, not really…" Then he was trying to set up the gear and asking us, "What can I expect?" And we said, "We don't know exactly… Just plug us in and you'll see." And that's what we did. We just plugged in and it was a clean recording in the way that he didn't put any FX on in post production and he didn't mix it. He just put the balance in between all the different instruments and this is what it sounded like. He had never heard anything like that before. Like I said, he was expecting a reggae band. The Deathcrush album is a very honest album because that is what it sounded like from our backline. And that's what we wanted to capture. And seeing as the technician who was working there didn't know anything about anything - we had to set the volumes for him - it's pretty funny that it turned out the way that it did.

I guess the big difference between the scene then and now can be summed up by the difference between fanzines and blogs. How important for you were publications like Slayer and Damage Inc.?

NB: Underground magazines were very important for the whole extreme music scene and the bands because back in those days all you had was Kerrang! who wouldn't write about this stuff and if they did write about it they wrote shit about it. We sent our Pure Fucking Armageddon demo into Kerrang! in 1986 and the review said it sounded like "Tom G. Warrior's balls in a lawnmower" and they complained that there were no vocals and the bass was just loud farting noises. Well the bass was the vocals that they heard. In a way it was great that they didn't understand a thing. They couldn't tell what was the bass and what were the vocals and they couldn't discern any rhythms or riffs or anything. But this is how the mainstream magazines treated necro bands. When Venom first came out in the early 80s all the magazines were just ripping the shit out of them. Even if those magazines covered Venom they would have cool pictures of them but the reviews were just shit. That made me like them even more. It meant no one else liked them! That was cool. It meant it wasn't for everyone.

But when it comes to the underground magazines that you're talking about, Slayer, Damage Inc. it was a crucial thing in building up the scene. In Norway Slayer magazine would always be the first to write about new metal bands in the mid-80s. Around that time there just wasn't a scene. If we wanted to play we'd have to hire a place to put on a show because no promoters would touch us. Also there were only four record stores in Europe that were willing to sell Deathcrush, you had stores like Shades in London and Sound Pollution in Stockholm. But in the beginning there was nothing. Then there was Mayhem. Then there was a magazine. Then we got some places to sell our releases. And then there were some successful gigs when we rented out the pubs to play in. Then the promoters started to come and book gigs for us. So it was years of pioneering in the beginning. And it was more fun then too. The more people worked against us the more determined we were to succeed. Especially with an aggressive and negative band like us, the more people turned against us, the more we found inspiration to keep on going.

Did you not enjoy being the vocalist in the beginning - it's you singing on [legendary Mayhem demo] Pure Fucking Armageddon isn't it?

NB: Errrrrr. Euronymous and I shared the vocals, so I sang half of it. I think I sing on two of the tracks. [laughs] Errrr. [pause] It wasn't really like that. We had worked with better vocalists before and we were going to try and get them in and… Errr…[laughs]

Well, how did you get to work with the two vocalists on Deathcrush, Messiah and Maniac?

PB: When we started out we didn't have any vocalists. We rehearsed for a year without vocals, then in '85 we had a gig so we acquired a vocalist who was a friend of ours called Billy [aka Erik Nordheim aka Messiah]. We rehearsed a couple of songs and we did a gig with him in '85. Then he went back to his band - friends of his from school that he didn't want to let down - called Black Spite. In the meantime Maniac had sent us a tape of his one man band called Septic Cunts with him on the guitar and screaming. We thought he was completely outrageous and asked him to sing on Deathcrush. He was living 260 km away  from Oslo in a mountain village. But he came and recorded most of the songs for us. But he had some problems with the title track and 'Witching Hour', so we called Billy again and he came down to the studio and laid down the vocals on those two tracks and Maniac went back to his mountain village. He was not ready to commit. We had big plans and he didn't want to tour and didn't want to move to Oslo and he was occupied with his own band Black Spite.

How did Conrad Schnitzler end up composing the intro track on Deathcrush, 'Silvester Anfang'?

NB: Well, that is an interesting story. In the Summer of '86 we were travelling round Europe on InterRail tickets. We were out there doing a promotional tour of the Pure Fucking Armageddon demo and went out to Germany to meet Kreator and all those bands and then on to London to hang out with Napalm Death. Basically  the band and Metalion were going round Europe together. Euronymous wanted to go to Berlin to look for rare records by Tangerine Dream, Conrad Schnitlzer, Klaus Schulze and that type of experimental, avant garde music. He had Conrad Schnitzler's address so he went out there to see him. He rang the doorbell but Conrad Schnitzler's wife had told him that there was a weird looking kid hanging round outside the house, who looked like he wanted to come in. Conrad didn't dare open the door and said to his wife, 'Don't worry he will probably go away soon.' But he didn't, he just stood outside the door. So eventually Conrad came out and invited him in for tea. And then they talked.

Euronymous communicated that he was a fan and Conrad gave him a lot of rare albums that he had and afterwards they started to correspond. So the idea was born to ask him if he could make an intro for the album. So we sent him Deathcrush and he came up with this 'Silvester Anfang' - which means New Year's Eve. I guess that's when he made it: on New Year's Eve. Of course it was very surprising and different. But at the same time it felt like he was inspired by listening to the tape and our music. Of course we used it. I heard when the story about what happened came out in the early 90s came out, he was very shocked but apparently when things calmed down he started to become proud that his intro was played all over the world by us. We kept it as our signature intro music. Everyone knows what is going on when they hear that intro playing.

How did you meet your next vocalist, Dead [Per Yngve Ohlin]?

NB: In '87 or '88 we got a letter from Sweden from Dead telling us that he was going to leave his band Morbid and he was looking for another band to join. He'd heard of us; I think Metalion from Slayer mag had told him that we were looking for another vocalist. So he came over to Norway from Sweden to our rehearsal place to live there while we were rehearsing. A month later we did a tape [with Hellhammer playing drums] and then after listening to it we proceeded to drink all the wine and booze we had in the house together and it became apparent that he was the right guy for this band. We just started to rehearse with the new line-up, we started to tour in 1990 after doing some gigs in 1989. We went to Germany and Turkey to play live in 1990. Getting home from the tour in 1990, Dead went into some depression and… he was suicidal, there was no question about that. He was suicidal all the time. You can do a lot of stupid things in your life but you can't have a second go after committing suicide. You just can't. So… yeah… that was a setback there.   

Obviously a lot of Mayhem fans are obsessive over the tracks 'Freezing Moon' and 'Carnage' because they represent the only recordings of a particular line-up of the group. What can you tell me about how Dead was when he was recording these vocal takes - how did he get into the right spirit for want of a better term?

NB: The 'Carnage' track is a very primitive, kind of death metal thing, and the music was made before the vocals were added, we played the riff and put it together and then came the lyrics. And this was so there would be some kind of flow to the lyrics, so they would fit the music. It's a very extreme song so it demanded a very extreme text to go with it. Looking back at it now and reading the lyric today, I'm like, 'Wow this is some berserk shit.' But at the same time if we hadn't done it then we would never have done it, because we were honest about it then and we thought it was great. That's why we put it out, we liked it ourselves. That was our main criteria. Today, I don't think… we'd come up with something so primitive. But I'm still proud of it. We still play it live. It still has a good kick to it.

Do you remember much about the Leipzig gig? And was it good fun being on the road with Mayhem in those days?

NB: Yeah, I remember that very well… it's hard to forget. We tried to set up the tour ourselves through the contacts we had in Europe. So we had three gigs in Germany, one in Greece, two in Turkey, one in the Netherlands… we bought InterRail tickets. It was a big hassle to travel around Europe on a train with all of our gear and instruments and we were looking… quite different from the other passengers. All the borders… All the border crossings… that was a big hassle at the time. Across the border into Germany, into Liepzig we came up from the train. We were really drunk. We got wasted as fuck just so we could get some sleep on the train. So we arrived feeling pretty fucked up. We crawled off the train in a really bad way and immediately we couldn't breathe because of the coal in the air. The whole town was completely black with soot. The coal would just stick in your lungs, making your eyes water. It was so polluted. We were staying with one of the promoters in a building that was attacked by Nazi skins all the time. So sleeping on the floor in this squalor, being attacked by Nazi skins, it wasn't the best situation to be in. And then when we got to the venue people didn't really know what was going on. There were a few people there with metal T-shirts but it didn't seem like they understood what was going on. I was doing a lot of screaming into the microphone, "Come on Leipzig!" But Dead really didn't say that much or communicate with the people there. To be honest I don't think they'd seen anything like that show before. I think they were shocked. It was recorded on a cassette recorder. You know where they have the microphone as part of the cassette recorder? The absolute worst crap you can buy to record stuff with? The recording is crap, it's never been mixed or mastered or anything like that. We never would have released it ourselves because we like good quality products. It's kind of like a bootleg but we did OK these guys in Italy to release it as a tribute to Dead. And two of the guys on it are dead now. It's the only live album with Dead and Euronymous on it so I understand why people still buy it.

Can you remember around that period with that line-up, what was the best gig you played around then?

NB: The first gigs were alright, a couple of gigs in Norway. At one show Dead cut himself with a broken Coke bottle. But he cut himself so deeply that he had to go off stage. The venue had some electric tape, so they taped his arm up and he came back on stage for the last song. When this was happening, people were leaving and he loved this because he thought they were disgusted with him cutting himself but the fact was they were leaving to get the last train home. I read in an interview with him saying, 'I loved when I opened my arm and splashed out blood on the front rows...' But people just didn't want to miss the last train. Even then we had the pigs heads. That was something we came up with in '85. What should a death metal band have on stage? They should have something that signifies death. And what could be better than a bunch of dead animals, especially when they won't let you have dead humans. It creates a more atmospheric place and it helps us to take the audience somewhere when they are looking at the stage and hearing the music.

Can you tell me what happened after the funeral of Euronymous because everyone expected Mayhem to end then but obviously you and Hellhammer had other plans.

NB: What happened at Euronymous' funeral? Ok, let's rewind it back to the last Summer when Dead was alive. Obviously everyone knows what happened. Euronymous took some photos of his body. Now I was a good friend of Dead and I thought what he did was disrespectful and not the right thing to do. I told him to get rid of the photos. I didn't want to see them. But he was talking about how they would be good for promotion. And I told him, 'If I see those photos anywhere I'm going to come and beat the shit out of you.' So that was the relationship we had straight after Dead's suicide. And what I said backfired on me because of course, he didn't burn the photos. We were already almost finished with the album [De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas], most of the songs were ready, when Dead killed himself. So then Attila [Csihar] was flown in to finish the vocals on the album. Dead killed himself in April 1991 so I left Mayhem.

Then one and a half years later, we started to get in contact again, we started to hang out more again and we decided I was going to come back. Euronymous had recorded [Count Grishnackh aka Varg Vikernes] on the bass, we started talking about me re-recording the bass because it was not done right. We were talking about the ten year anniversary we were planning for the group. We were planning this festival and were going to bring our friends Sodom, Kreator and play ourselves too. So that idea was born in the Summer of 1993. We started to hang out again and then… well, everyone knows what happened then, at the end of 1993.

At the funeral I met up with Hellhammer. I was in a band with Maniac called Fleshwounds. His vocals had improved and he had moved to Oslo and he was ready. He wanted to do it now. He wasn't ready in 1987 but he was ready in 1993. Hellhammer and me had a talk about it after the funeral, I told him about Maniac and we agreed, there and then that we should carry on. We just needed a guitarist. We were considering Snorre [Ruche aka Blackthorn] who was convicted of… you know… he drove Grishnackh down to Oslo that night. So he was serving a seven year sentence and in Norway you serve two thirds of your sentence. So that would have been a five year wait. Then he told me he knew a bloke, an extremely talented guy. But he was a fuck up. He had already smashed up our rehearsal space when he was drunk. His name was Rune Erickson [aka Blasphemer]. So because he had smashed up the rehearsal space we were a bit… hmmm. In the end Hellhammer said, "If we get this guy in and we get the right feeling, then we can proceed." And obviously that happened.

He already knew all the Deathcrush songs, all the Mysteriis songs. It fitted like a glove. We were extremely happy. That was 1994. It was about a year before we started rehearsing. People were saying, "Oh, the band should die with Dead and Euronymous." And we had to fight that thing. I remember Blasphemer was the most pissed off at the time. So he decided that we were not going to release anything until we were 100% happy, so we locked ourselves in the rehearsal space for three years. We went to the studio to record. We had three songs so we thought fuck it, we'll record an EP. We used the studios of the guitarist in a band called TNT, a glam rock band from the 80s - hugely successful in Norway and in America as well. We were there for 14 days, and when we got the tape home and listened to it, it was, "Oh fuck..." It was too fast. It was just too aggressive so we had to re-record half the EP in a friend's studio for free because it was just too aggressive. We had to slow it down to get the songs across. But I tell you we were as aggressive as those songs at the time.

The papers, the magazines, everybody was just talking so much shit about us. The Norwegian press… I know there was a lot of shit in the papers in the UK but think about how it was over here. It was front page every fucking day for years. But when we came back with this album, Wolf's Lair Abyss everyone was against us. And yes, that made us more determined. But that was OK because anger is a good tool. If someone says to you, 'That will never work.' That makes you more determined to make it work. And when you're making aggressive music there's nothing better than to be aggressive in everything you do. And we were extremely aggressive at that time. Misanthropy signed us. Barely anyone would touch us around this time. We didn't really give a fuck to be honest, we just wanted to get the album out there. So we released the record, went on tour, and then, finally, the bullshit started to die down a little bit. There were still a lot of negative people about but we had enough space for Blasphemer to write his best album, A Grand Declaration Of War which came out in 2000. I think it's one of the best albums ever. Everyone has a different opinion on music but it is my opinion that Grand Declaration Of War is a masterpiece.

Do you think around the release of Grand Declaration Of War that people were starting to realise that if you understood the music, then you could tell that black metal was quite avant garde?

NB: I don't think so. Maybe now. When the music first came out, people were like, 'What the fuck is this shit?' They just didn't understand it. It was really out there. It wasn't what they expected. What I hear now - many years later - is that people have started to really enjoy that album. But it wasn't easy listening you know, it was a challenge to the fans. And when you challenge people the immediate reaction is always bad. I mean, there are no songs you can relate to on the album. It's not catchy. That's the thing with music; the catchy stuff you like immediately but then when you listen to it the next time it's boring and then each time you listen to it the more boring it gets. With Grand Declaration Of War we wanted the listener to experience new things each time they listened to it, maybe the first thirty times. It grows on you and then you finally solve the puzzle if you give it the time and effort. You will solve the puzzle and see the same thing that we saw. That is why people liked that album years after it came out but when it came out it got a lot of slander and shit. But we knew we had to produce a masterpiece and we didn't give a fuck. We knew people wouldn't get it immediately, not the year it came out or the year after.

Grand Declaration Of War is obviously a very progressive and intricate album. Why, with Chimera, did you return to a very brutal and heavy form of black metal?

NB: Again, it's where we are as people at a certain point, reflected in our music. And in this case, our music writer, Blasphemer, this is what happened to him after Grand Declaration Of War. After we toured extensively with that album we started writing songs and it was time to hit the studio again. And it was different again. At the same time you can still hear all the elements are there. The aggressiveness is there. The heaviness is there… certain key Mayhem characteristics. But it altered because we altered. So it's just a natural progression and looking at the back catalogue, I'm very happy with how it turned out because mostly we were never happy with one kind of song, we were always changing and we took our fans with us on this evolution. We started as a death metal punk band, then exploring a different kind of primitive, dark, negative music, it was the same thing but with different structures. As you get older you become influenced by different things. It's like in building. The foundation is the same and the building is essentially the same but you can tell the architecture is different between the 80s and the 00s.

And then three years after that you had the magnificent Ordo Ad Chao...

NB: At that time Blasphemer called me and he had kind of hit a wall. He just didn't see where he could go. For him it was the end of this kind of music that had been evolving since Wolf's Lair Abyss and I can understand that actually. Where do you go from Ordo Ad Chao? It is like when the train terminates at the last station, there is no more track, you have to get off. That's it. You're happy. You're home. But obviously we weren't ready to stop the band because we felt we could go further with this kind of music. After Blasphemer left in 2008, we had four different guitarists [we were trying out]. And then one or two years ago we went to the studio when we thought we were ready. We went to a studio in Hungary and recorded eight songs and spent some time listening to it and realised that it wasn't good enough. But that process helped us to find the key to unlock something else and then after that, great songs started to come up and then suddenly we had ten songs. In the process of recording the new album, Esoteric Warfare, we had to get a new record deal and ended up with Seasons Of Mist again. We had to change booking agents, so we have a new booking agent in the States and in Europe and the album is due to be released on May 23 and the European tour starts at the same. There is a single ['Psywar'] out this month.

What is Esoteric Warfare like?

NB: Yes. It's very Mayhem. It has the elements of aggression. The foundation is still there but taking it to a different level. There's a new song writer. I think people will recognise it as a Mayhem product. It's hard to talk about music in this way. Happily people will be able to listen to it and make up their own minds. It's not too easy listening. We are back to challenging our listeners and fans again. But they loved to be challenged back in the day. Well, this is going to be the same.

Is 'Psywar' a good example of the sound of the album?

NB: Yes. We picked that song as a single because it represents the album in a good way. It's where we are now as songwriters and as people. Influenced by our environment and our history. There are mathematical formulas in what we do. How we get from A to B but with a little detour on the way, let's say. So if you think in terms of mathematics, you get there in the end, even if you don't understand everything about the process on the first listen. But we don't like to repeat ourselves. But I should say there are some more dream-like passages that make you feel like you are floating. We are proud of it and that is the main thing.

How was playing in Dubai? And given that you've been doing this for thirty years now, are you surprised at how far away from Norway the appreciation of the sound has travelled?

NB: This is something that gives us inspiration. It is very interesting to see new markets open up in countries that have been previously under a dictatorship or restrained against this kind of music in another way. We are still exploring and opening up new markets and meeting new fans in places that ten years ago would have been unthinkable. Places like Dubai. South America. India. Pakistan. A lot of Muslim countries. I have a list of 13 countries that I know have a metal scene where we haven't played yet. And it's still going. China has come up time and again. But unfortunately for us, the Norwegian government gave a peace prize to a dissident in jail in China and that created some problems between the two countries. So we have a hard time getting visas now - which is just bullshit but hopefully we'll get to play there.

I was having some food in Illegal Burger in Oslo a few years ago before a 1349 show and when I was in there I saw you and Kristoffer [Rygg] from Ulver really getting into the dubstep the DJ was playing. You were really enjoying this track called 'Tarantula' by Zombie and this made me think, that you must have very broad musical tastes…

NB: Most musicians I know listen to all different kinds of music; even if they're just in a punk band or a metal band they'll still listen to a diverse amount of music. Most metal people I know actually have a couple of bands that they like that would make most people go, 'What?!' I'm the same. With some of the music I like, Mayhem fans would be like, 'What the fuck?!' But it comes with the territory. But at the same time there are a few things I will never listen to, like musicals. They're just the fucking worst. There is different music for different occasions. When I first wake up I like to listen to aggressive music like Napalm Death for example. Then when I'm eating breakfast I need to bring it down to something like Cypress Hill. Then I get in my car I like to listen to some car music, ZZ Top, the Beastie Boys, something like that. Before I go out on the town I like to listen to Motorhead, Pantera and at the end of the evening I might listen to the Rolling Stones from the 1970s. When I was a young man I would always listen to Voivod before going to sleep. It's so intricate it's really good to listen to before you sleep - like listening to your fridge. It's not annoying, it's comforting. But people listen to different things. It's like with Quorthorn - he liked the Beatles! And everyone was like, 'What the fuck?!' But you know… [laughs]... some people will say, 'Why do you listen to this shit and not metal?' And yeah, we make metal - that is what comes out of us - but it is not necessary to listen to metal 24/7 to make it. I listen to a lot of aggressive music but it depends on what I'm doing. I don't have any preference of music for when I'm in the shower but I like to listen to very aggressive music when I'm doing the dishes. The best albums to do the dishes to are Smear Campaign and Words From The Exit Wound by Napalm Death.    

Esoteric Wafare is out via Seasons Of Mist on June 6. Mayhem play Camden Electric Ballroom on May 21. Oya Festival takes place in Oslo between August 5 and 9  

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